Showing posts from July, 2012

Thoughts from a "Shill for Monsanto"

As an academic research scientist active at the public interface, I enjoy communicating about complex science topics. With regard to trasngenic (GMO) crops, if you read my blogs, comments left online, or listen to audiences in public discussions, you'll see that they ultimately reach a common point. Someone always indicates that Monsanto is my employer . Like clockwork. I'm still waiting for the check. Actually, I never worked for them, consulted for them, or received a dime from them. As a university scientist my funding is all public record, so this may be verified.  Here is why the throw-away "you work for Monsanto" or "shill for Monsanto" comment harms the anti-GMO movement:  1. It immediately says that you are willing to make up information in the absence of evidence. 2. It says that you are finished with the conversation, that nothing I communicate is valid in your opinion. 3. It shows that you are willing to try to influence other like-mind

The “Arctic Grape” Sneaks Through Public Approval

We are currently witnessing the USDA public commentary period on the Arctic Apple, a transgenic apple that does not exhibit browning upon injury or cutting.   The anti-browning trait was installed by scientists at Okanagan Specialty Fruits. A copy of the apple gene for polyphenol oxidase (PPO) was overexpressed, which triggers a plant response to silence the over-expressed gene.   The same process also suppresses the apple’s endogenous PPO genes. Trees have been growing for ten years and are poised for widespread adoption.  But as expected, the critics have now emerged against this non-browning apple.  They say that the apples are untested in humans, that the pollen will contaminate other plants.  They say that it is unnatural and will need more pesticide.  But the same criticisms were strangely silent against what was essentially the Arctic Grape.  A major genetic alteration affected the PPO gene of the ‘Sultana’ grape, a genetic change that was unknown, uncharacterized and uni